Tuesday, August 20, 2013

First week in Carlsbad!!

OK, so real quick ...I want to sum up my last week at the MTC!

On my last P-day, I got SOOO much done! I washed and ironed all my shirts, shined my shoes, wrote all my letters, packed, and sewed my very first shirt! I was so productive that day!

So if you're wondering if the Seychelle water bottle filter works ....it does. Bahahahaha, one of my district comps tried it. Elder Hammer was dumb enough to pee into his ...and then drink it!!! Bahahahaha! And guess what!!! It filtered it!!!! :D  He said it was super salty, but we all watched as he drink -- and gurgled -- his own pee!  Bahahaha. So, I'm pretty sure I'll be fine!

So I have actually grown quite close to Grandpa Paul over the last few weeks. One of my teachers said that we have angels helping us through life and the work we need to do. I can't help but think of Grandpa Paul as mine. He was always there before, and regardless of his death, he is helping me now. I've felt him, and I know he's encouraging me and guiding me. I can feel his love for me.
Brady Garvin came to say good-bye
So Brady Garvin was kind enough to find my room the night before I left. So nice, but also quite sad. :(  ...I'm going to miss seeing Brady around campus. But we got to say our goodbyes, so that was good.

So I like to relate the MTC to a father teaching his son how to ride a bike. The MTC is the training wheels, but with time you don't need them. I'm now out of training, and I'm actually out in the field. But what does a father normally do? He's always is there, holding the back of the seat, making sure his kid doesn't fall. This is the exact same thing with Christ. Even thought I'm out on my own, Christ is here, helping and guiding me, never letting me go. Just as a father is to his Son, Christ is to everyone.

OK, Carlsbad Mission

I'm going to start by answering some of my parents' questions. 

Tell us about your companion.  His name; where he's from; what he's like.
Me with Elder Jensen (trainer) and Elder Gonzalez
I'm in a 3-some right now since I'm waiting for my visa. Elder Jensen has been out for 1 year; he's my trainer. He's 19 years old and is from New Hampshire. He's sooo awesome! I love him so much! He's fun and personable. He has kinda' had a rough past of rebellion, but he's come back and is SOOO strong in the faith. He has had experiences that he cannot deny. His faith is incredible. I love him. Elder Gonzalez has been out for 6 months. He is actually 26!!! Crazy huh! He's from Wahaka, Mexico (or however you spell it). He has been a convert for only a year. He had some very spiritual experiences that caused him to join. :) He's so funny! He's constantly playing pranks or jokes. It's very rare that he is serious, of course mainly during lessons. But he is so fun to be around. I love him! Gah! I love my companions so much! We are working hard, and we get along great! The days go by so fast when its just us! I love my companions and am thrilled to be with them! It was meant to be ;) 

Tell us about your first door approach.
I've actually only had one real one. We usually have appointments (which fall through), but I was prompted by what I thought was the spirit to knock on a particular door. No one answered. Bahahaha ...but I acted on my impressions, and that's what's good. 

Your first lesson
My first lesson was the day I arrived (last Tuesday) with the Ocampo family. they're members. They have 2 adorable little girls who are so full of energy. They are 4 and 2 years old. :) So cute! It was fun. We taught about the restoration, with emphasize on building our faith on the Book of Mormon. It went really well. I even got to teach and shared some scriptures. 

Had any successes yet?
We are essentially whitewashing. The Elders before us were horribly unorganized and never updated the area book. So we just had a bunch of names, but no contact information to go with the names. So we've unfortunately had to start new, and have already found 5 investigators. Barbara (gold), Joel (Silver), Jorge (silver), Dimetrio (Silver), and Alma (eh...)

How's your mission president?
I've only meet him twice: my first day and at my first baptism ;)  (Whaaaat?!  ...more below)
He's only been in 3 months.
President and Sister Hal C Kendrick

Learn anything yet about your visa?
Nope. But I did meet a Hermana Jones who is also going to the Argentina Resistencia mission ....she's been here for 27 weeks!!   BUT, her visa just came two days ago. She leaves the 23rd.

How was traveling with your suitcases?  Like your "side" bag now?
Traveling was fine! I barely made it with each suitcase weighing 49lbs! The side bag was really helpful. But...haha, I actually don't use it here in the mission field. We only carry scriptures by hand. But I think I'll use it more often as time goes on.

I still want to know if you've listened to your new "speaker" mp3 player?  And if you like it.
I love it, I just need to figure out how to delete some songs....especially the fan sound...that's horrible sounding ...bahahaha.

Anything we can get for you?
Just if at all possible send the other missionaries' letters in the mail....I have very little time on the computer to read them, and I have like 8 emails I haven't even bothered to open yet. 

How's the food? (I inserted this)
It's really good! All I eat is Mexican food! It usually consists of tortillas, beans, and some form of meat. You eat only with your hands. You tear a part of the tortilla and use that to grab some of the beans and meat. It's very good. :D  I actually just ate my first Jalapeño pepper. Man did that burn. And I ate it straight. Phew, that burned everything in me. I can still feel it boiling in my tummy.

So some random things about the Carlsbad Mission:
- It includes the highest tithe paying stake in the church (pretty nice area)
- We are only allowed to run for exercise. We have to get up at 6 and run 'til 6:30.
- There is no rule on music here, it's just "what you feel is OK".
- Email time is 90 minutes

So my Spanish is coming along absolutely great! Especially since I'm paired with a native from Mexico ;-) I was the only verde (greenie) paired with a native. Bahaha! This reminds me, Elder Gonzales is trying to learn English, and he was trying to pronounce "should", but he couldn't do it, and it was hilarious!! He swore! Bahahahaha ...oh goodness, I wonder if I've sworn in Spanish yet!??! I can usually understand about 80% of what Elder Jensen says, 60% of what Elder Gonzalez says, and it varies between 40-50% of what others say (meaning members and investigators, etc). I can always get my point across and don't struggle too much with talking.  It's only understanding that is partially hard right now. But the Spanish isn't really a problem right now. :)

So when I arrived in Carlsbad, the mission president was there to pick us up. There were about 30 missionaries arriving, and 8 of us were Spanish speaking. We went to the mission home where they fed us these California burritos from Los Cabos! They were so good!! They had french fries in them! Anyways, after the random "here's what the mission is like," we had interviews with the president ...no joke, mine was about 45 seconds. Bahahaha.

I'm currently in Escondido

We then went to a meeting where we were assigned companions and areas. My area is Escondido. Right when they announced my area, everyone was like "GASP!!" "WOW" "Tierra de Milagros" (land of miracles). So my area is pretty sweet. I'm totally pumped to serve here. It's all Mexicans really, so I'm constantly speaking in Spanish. :) It's actually quite hot, about 95 degrees, and very, very poor. Its nickname is "The dirty Dito" because of the filth. But I love it. :)
Mine is the top bunk :-)

So I arrived at my apartment around 8pm, which also holds a pair of white elders (that's what we call the Ingles-speaking elders, even if we're white ourselves). And we then went to the Ocampo family ...who have quickly become my fav family here. They are awesome and Hermano Ocampo is a jefe (note from Travis' father:  manager).

So I have really acclimated to the mission life. I'm not afraid to talk to people. The mission president likes us to keep track of our contacts for the day. So we set a number-of-contacts goal and try to get it. I talk with everyone I can. It's so easy, I just walk up and start talking.  The people are usually polite enough to listen. :) Except if they're white....they're mean. But I'm working hard. I participate in every lesson, regardless if I can't understand everything, but I usually understand enough to get the idea of it. :) We've found a lot of potential investigators now. And it's fun. :)

So I think the ward likes me, but it's hard to tell after just one week. I know Hermana Ocampo likes me! Bahahaha! She said that since I'm so skinny and handsome, that I should just stay here and not go to Argentina. ;)  I'm making an effort to shake hands with everyone and remember names....but it's a lot harder in Spanish.

So we actually had a baptism my first week. 2 actually. :) The previous missionaries were teaching 2 little boys, Junior 9 and Jacob 8. They had set a baptismal date....but forgot to tells us about it. So we found out the day before the baptism and literally scrambled to organize something and meet the boys. The baptism was unfortunately very unorganized, and the boys' mom didn't help matters and decided to change everything last minute :p grrrr. AND! then the president had to show up!!! Of all the baptisms ...he chooses to show up to ours...the unknown and unplanned one. :p I was sooo embarrassed. But I'm still a verde with only 4 days under my belt. I can only imagine what Elders Jenson and Gonzalez felt. But it wasn't our fault, we just weren't told.

So I was actually asked to confirm Jacob a member. Huh, my first week and I had to confirm a new member. :)  Cool, huh! I definitely had to rely on the Spirit to guide me, since I only had met the kid 3 times before his baptism. It was cool.
I got a lot of firsts in my first week. :)

Oh, and on my 2nd day here, I got to bless a house, that was fun and interesting!

Oh, also the 2nd day I was here, we were shopping at WalMart to buy some supplies for me. There was this guy that was just screaming and hollering at us! It was sad, but quite amusing. He was saying that us Mormons were a cult, and that we were trying to take over the government. He said that people should just kill us now. Bahahah. He even pulled out his passport and was like "I'm an American, and you ain't gonna' take over my country." It was quite amusing ...and sad. Everyone came up to us and was apologizing for him. So that was comforting.

So yesterday I was feeling kinda' useless. The previous Elders left us with nothing to work with, so we literally have been taking referrals and tracting the entire time. We've only taught 5 lessons this whole week! and 3 of those to members! But we've slowly, through hard work, developed a solid bunch of investigators to work with. :) Yesterday, we really hit the jackpot! We contacted everyone we met! And many people actually gave us their numbers and addresses. I believe we have a least 3 more investigators that will come from this. We also performed 2 acts of service. We would see people that needed help and would literally ran to help them. Ha, it must've been a sight to see. But we did get 1 potential investigator out of it :)  and we placed a Book of Mormon!! This guy seemed super interested and took one :) But sadly, he lives outside of our area, so we won't be the ones teaching him :(  But yesterday was a day full of success. :)

So I'm learning a lot, and I'm super excited to be here! I love it here, and I can feel the Spirit guiding us and encouraging us. I can definitely testify of prayer and fasting. Me and my companions really wanted to find people to teach. So we set goals, prayed God would help us achieve them, fasted, and went out and worked. Throughout the week we slowly made progress, and yesterday it exploded. :) I know the Lord was involved in our efforts. He put people in our way for us to teach. :)

I know this is the Lord's work and He has provided a way for us to spread it. :) The church is true. :) I know it. I'll never deny it. It brings nothing but felicidad.

I love you all so much! :D

-Elder Clemons